“When Jesus came to the region of Ceasarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the messiah, the Son of the living God.” You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’) and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” Then he sternly warned the disciple not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” Matthew 16:13-20 NLT
Last week we talked about knowing God by name. We saw Seth, third son of Adam, leading people to call upon, worship and invoke the name YAHWEH. They were imploring the One Who was, who is and who will always be. Seth knew God as the self-existant One.
In biblical times, the name of a person or Deity held that person’s character. YAHWEH was the character trait of God that Seth recognized and called upon.
In the passage in Matthew, Jesus was asking his disciples “Who am I to you?”
Matthew and Mark both placed significance on the place that Jesus asked this question. They recorded, “Jesus came to Ceasarea Philippi.” Luke simply records, “One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only his disciples were with him, and he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” Luke 9:18 NLT
It is now the winter before His death Jesus Christ has brought His disciples to Ceasarea Philippi. It is here He revealed to His disciples for the first time that He was indeed the Jewish Messiah all had been waiting on. All three gospels place significance on the “where” of the setting of this story: Caesarea Philippi and leaving the crowds to pray alone. I found this interesting. The story’s setting is placed in an area of diabolical significance. Caeserea was the center for the worship of Pan, the greek god who was like a man with a goats legs, a tail and sometimes horns. He was also know to make scary noises in the forests. The cave of Pan, the place of the pagan Gate of Hades, was located in Ceaserea. It was in this area that the first king of Israel (Jeroboam) led the northern kingdom of Israel in idolatry. Here Israel would throw their sons and daughters into the fire to worship the god of Baal. And it is in this place, Jesus chose to reveal himself and reveal all the suffering that lay before him. Jesus and his closest companions were walking on ground that had been defiled by idol worship, but here was where He revealed his identity. Jesus Christ is the Christos, the anointed one. He is above all gods. He takes dominion over false worship. He alone is the living Son of God. All other idols cannot move off their statues of stone or wood. But Jesus the Messiah walks and talks and lives among us.
Luke alone records the “why” of our story. “Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Only his disciples were with him” He had gotten His directions from His time of prayer. His vertical relationship was in alignment. Now was the time of revelation to his horizontal relationships. It was time. The Father had given Him permission to reveal His annointing to those closest to Him.
“Who do you say that I AM?” He asks each one of us that question. He asks us when we are walking and living in a fallen world where some days our pain is too great to bear. He asks us when we are alone. He asks us when we are too busy. He asks us when the world screams, “He was only a good teacher,” or “He wasn’t the real Messiah.” He truly wants to know “who am I to you?” Can you put a definitive answer to that question? Reply back. Who do you say Jesus is? Who is the Son of Man to you? The key to your eternity lies in your answer.